Saturday, July 23, 2011
REVIEW. DStv BoxOffice is an enjoyable extension service, easy to navigate and understand, quick to access, with a simplistic design.
This independent review of DStv BoxOffice, MultiChoice's new video-on-demand (VOD) service, is based on a viewing done on a Pace 4P HD PVR decoder with a Sony Bravia Full HD TV set. This review solely focuses on the functionality, design, and use, of the service in a fully functional environment, excluding possible operator technical difficulties or service interruptions that might have an impact on the service, options and selections and speed DStv BoxOffice is accessible by pressing the green button on the DStv remote control.
If you're familiar with DStv's existing interface design and menu selection, DStv BoxOffice is incredibly easy to use and navigate through. The exact same functionality and video manipulation is possible as with anything else recorded on the PVR (for instance pause and rewind, fast forward, or leaving the movie and returning with the option to either Resume Play or Restart Play).
To choose a movie and do payment authorization required an SMS to be sent to a shortcode. It took 2 minutes for the decoder to change the movie title from ''Rent now'' to ''View Now'' which means the movie can now be clicked and watched. All movies have free trailers. Movies will play in standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) depending on your PVR and TV set.
Before you select a movie, the green playlist page give all the relevant movie details like actors, director, theme, runtime, PG rating, price (they're all R25 VAT inclusive) and the time available to view after buying (48 hours). The last column indicates the date (day/month) the movie is going to disappear as a potential movie that can be ordered and watched - when the date comes close it starts to turn red just like on the Catch-Up service. The playist can be sorted (white button) and a full rental history is also available (blue button).
A movie starts immediately without any adverts and is preceded by a visual as well as an audio age restriction announcement, for instance ''This programme is rated 13. Viewer discretion is advised.''
The i-Plate is available by pressing ''i'' on the DStv remote control. It contains the same information as might be available on a normal show listing on the DStv EPG. The banners are green to distinguish it as DStv BoxOffice. At the bottom it indicated until when the movie can be viewed, for instance: ''View until Mon, 14:51.'' At the end of a movie, at the end of the credit roll the decoder automatically returns to the green BoxOffice playlist page of available movies.
Press the green button while you're watching a movie and you'll be returned to the BoxOffice playlist page of available movies (while the movie keeps playing). Press the red button while you're watching a movie and you'll suddenly go to your own playlist page of recorded shows (while the movie keeps playing).
The green interface design is clean and looks very nice. The top right hand corner displays key art of the movie you're highlighting that's big enough so you can get a better sense of what it's about (like a DVD cover).
Accessing the system was quick, easy, and very simple. From the first screen, to getting a movie to play on DStv BoxOffice took me 3 minutes. Two minutes of this was the final verification after having chosen a specific title (I watched I am Number Four) and waiting for the decoder to change the movie title from Rent Now to View Now. There's also a separate SMS message that gets sent to your phone to say you've rented it, what the title is, and that ''its due within 5 mins.'' although I immediately clicked it on screen and it started playing.